It sounds like people are enjoying Gankutsuou so far, which is excellent! Remember, the series is available online, so if you haven't had a chance to watch this week's episodes yet, you can find them there - Episode 3 Episode 4
Previous discussions - Week 1
Other participants brought up some good points last week, including the use of texture to help emphasize the difference in social status between the characters (the wealthy are portrayed wearing rich fabrics, while the prisoners in the first episode are clad in burlap rags), and there were some great examples shared about the role that the visual framing of the scenes and the layout of certain settings have in elaborating upon the different character roles (Franz, Albert and the Count positioned on a balcony far atop the rabble below, for example.
With those points in mind, onward to this week's episodes!
Act 3: 5/22, Stormy
Albert and his friends take a day to go for a ride and enjoy a picnic in the countryside. In the meantime, the Count arrives on Earth and makes his way to the Morcerf mansion to enjoy the hospitality promised to him by Albert. Albert and company await the Count's arrival, and Albert's companions find themselves put off by the Count's secretive nature. The mystery deepens when Beauchamp, Albert's friend and a news reporter, discovers that the Count's voice doesn't show up on his audio recording of the evening, nor does his image appear in any photographs. The Count finds himself face-to-face with his past when Albert's parents arrive to greet him.
Act 4: A Mother's Secrets
Albert invites the Count to stay for dinner, where significant glances and pregnant pauses dominate the conversation, especially between the Count and Mercedes, Albert's mother. Later on, Albert notices his mother gazing at a photograph of a man he doesn't recognize, and Peppo (who has been hired on as a maid), does her best to sow the seeds of discordant thoughts in Albert's mind regarding the situation. When Albert and his friend's are invited to the Count's home, they are initially disappointed in what they see as an abnormally austere abode... until an elevator ride brings them to a huge gilded room complete with an artificial view of the sky and sea around Marseilles.
Discussion: There are some fairly significant concepts that come to light in these few episodes, one of which is further discussion of class and how it plays into this story. Visually we get a very strong image of the literal and figurative divide between the wealthy and poor denizens of Paris - there's a large wall that separates the vibrant city center, containing the largest businesses, government buildings and homes of the nobility, from the darker, dirtier industrial areas where the lower class live. When Albert and his friends walk along the top of the wall, their conversation emphasizes their lack of consideration for the people who live outside their social echelon, though since his trip, even na�ve Albert has a sense of the world outside his insular social enclave.
The dinner date between Albert's family and the Count is perhaps one of my favorite early scenes of the show, primarily because it's riddled with subtext that involves story elements to be revealed later in the series. Especially important to note are the words spoken between the Count and Mercedes, especially since it's clear from her mannerisms that she's not telling the entire truth about her past, and it's clear from the Count's line of questioning that he's probing for answers and has an ulterior motive for doing so. Again, the show does an excellent job of conveying the unspoken emotions of its characters through their expressions. Some of the animation in these couple of episodes has begun to drop in quality, but in spite of that this particular aspect of the characters continues to shine through and prove important to the show.
There have been some prior musings about what sort of role Albert is meant to serve in the series, but how about Peppo? She (and I choose to refer to her as female since that is the person who she chooses to be) enters Albert's life once again in an unexpected manner and serves to further corrupt his "innocence," this time through the dissemination of commentary and information. There's a scene in episode four where Peppo meets with Albert and begins to insinuate certain things about Mercedes; in this scene, she picks up a clown doll and speaks from behind it playfully. While I think this could just be a silly affectation of hers, I find it significant that the image with which she's coupled is that of a clown or fool. Traditionally, the king's fool had the unique ability to criticize the royalty and nobles in the name of humor; perhaps Peppo, being an outsider with a unique perspective, might help to provide commentary to Albert on his behalf even while annoying him with information he doesn't want to hear. At the very least, she doesn't seem shy about offering her opinion.
It's in these episodes that the supernatural elements of the Count's existence begin to take root more strongly. In some cases I find this a bit overdramatic - when he enters the Morcerf home while the power flickers in and out (I highly doubt these sort of electrical problems would be common five-hundred years in the future) and the wind blows wildly inside the house, I simply have to laugh at it a little bit. But the photographic evidence in which he appears as a blur and the recorded audio in which his voice is but a faint crackle are things I find genuinely creepy (perhaps this is just my love of creepypastas talking).
I'm intentionally trying to keep my commentary on this entry more brief and my questions a bit more vague in the hopes that a more free-form discussion will spawn, so feel free to talk about the aspects that interested you during these episodes. I'll try to do a better job of responding to comments this week. Remember to feel free to pose any questions of your own you'd like to discuss in the comments.
Some points of discussion:
- There were several more examples of great framing and direction throughout this week's episodes. What were some of your favorites and how do you interpret them considering what you know to this point?
- Of all the new characters introduced this week (Eugenie, Valentine, Beauchamp, etc.), who do you find most interesting and why? Or, who do you hope to learn more about?
- In addition to the wall, what other elements of these episodes seemed significant in relation to the social class of the characters?